Tuesday, February 21, 2006

And God Smiles . . .

. . . because pitchers and catchers have reported and position players start filtering in this week.


Rich said...

Warming up the "Red Sox suck" chants as we speak. . .

You silly little loyjwt you.

dcat said...

Yankees swallow, you dirty kqhwwd (that actually sounds like it could be a nasty word in Hindi or something).

G Man said...

More people watch NASCAR than baseball.

dcat said...

And more people bought Third Eye Blind's album than bought Pavement's whole output. And more people watch "The Bachelor" than watch "Arrested Development," and in any case, your framework is a bit skewed: there is one NASCAR race a week during the season. In that same week there will be, what, let's be conservative and say 12 games a day? 12x7 = 94. A whole hell of a lot more people watch those 94 games than watch the one NASCAR race.

So pick your poison -- either your matric is simply flawed and wrong, or else the fact that more people watch NASCAR might just mean that Hootie and the Blowfish fans (they outsold the Clash!) all had to find something else to do.

(And I do not even loathe NASCAR. I even watched part of the Daytone 500. I lived in Charlotte for two years, lived just down the road from Charlotte Motor Speedway, and as a consequence I always have a vague sense of what the standings look like and who is doing well. I also love to watch the veins on a NASCAR fan's forehead explode when I say that my favorite driver is Jeff Gordon. They fulminate about how good ol' #24, the Rainbow Warrior, does not do any of the mechanic/tech work on his own car, which is a stupid argument, like judging your favorite quarterback based on whether or not he molds the plastic on his own shoulder pads. But that I do not loathe NASCAR does not mean that these guys are athletes. What they do is tough, very competitive, and all that. So to me it is like Iron Chef, but on a lower common denominator level.)


GoodLiberal said...

Ok, then, let's hear some answers:
where will the following be on opening day:
1) David Wells
2) Manny
3) Clement
4) Will Foulke be back to his old self?
5) And Schilling?

How do the Sox do this year?

The Blue Jays will be a force this year, but Lowell and Loretta have a lot of potential to bounce back from sub-par performances last year. If they do, and Josh Beckett and Schilling provide a one-two punch, then the Sox could be as good as anyone in baseball!! can't wait 'til opening day...

Lastly, give me that sleeper pick for my fantasy baseball competition!

dcat said...

Simon --
Some guesses, informed and otherwise, about your queries:
1) Wells goes, but not until toward the end of spring training. I am ok with having 7 starting pitchers in camp. let's keep in mind that in 2004 we entered the nseason thinking we had an embarassment of riches when it came to pitching. Then BH Kim proved to be unreliable and insane, and we had to deal with DLowe's inconsistencies and injuries to Schill and Pedro at different times. Wells is reliable, and we cannot give him away for a nickel on the dollar. If we get a good deal as spring training closes and pitcging staffs shake out, that's fine. But trade him just to trade him? No thanks.

2) Manny: Maybe this is wishful thinking, but i NEVER wanted to trade Manny and I do not now. The red Sox are not the brewers or Royals. they have the money. Manny's salary is not a factor -- especially with yet another 1500 seats or so being added to Fenway, which will continue to sell out and max out $6 beer sales. There is no way to get equal value for Manny. the Sox can afford to pay to win now and still Moneyball it ewnough to win later. Manny will be Manny, we'll get a few frustrating moments with him, and he'll continue to rake.

3) Clement is the toughest call. he is just appealing enough to have some value, just inconsistent enough to drive you mad, just good enough not to want to give him away. But as i said with Wells, I'd be wary of falling into the trap of thinking we can have oo much of a good thing. Clement can be a very good third starter. Let's let papelbon develop, he's going to be a superstar, but let's not rush a guy who was 10-3 at the All Star break out the door just yet. I think we stay with Clement.

4) Foulke will be better than he was last year, worse than he was in the 2004 ostseason. he will be a lot like he was for much of the 2004 season -- good, sometimes very good, but not gagne-esque or anything. I just hope he is good enough that we do not try to send Papelbon back there or rush Hanson.

5) Schiling is hitting that age where he could decline precipitously or he could return as a force. I like that he is a leg-based power pitcher a la Clemens (and yes, I'd take Clemens back if we could get him) and Ryan. I also like his competitive spirit. But i also think we need to treat him like Pedro -- give him every extra day that we can, never let him go on short rest, keep an eye on his innings and so forth. the good news is that his problems have been with his ankle, not his arm or shoulder. the bad news is, if this is chronic, he may never be able to push off and thus pitch effectively again. But it's spring training, so let's let hope win -- Schill will be back.

Sox in '06? I think it will be status quo -- Sox and yanks, with an improved Jays taking third. But I think this will be the year that we overtake the Yanks for the division -- we might have to, because although we say tyhis every year, it really is true that one of these times the wild card will not come from an AL East that will be beating up on one another.

I agree -- if we can get offensive production out of Loretta and/or Lowell, we should be in great shape. It is a little disconcerting to see a wholly new infield and center fielder, but we still have a nucleus that has rung up 900+ runs for the last three seasons, we still have Ortiz, we still have a solid and possibly stellar rotation. In all, it could be a great year for red Sox Nation.

Fantasy baseball sleeper:
Homer version -- Coco Crisp. Watch him break out. Non-Sox: I think Grady Sizemore will continue to rise.
I have to admit, I think my fantasy draft is on me, and I have been pretty Sox focused of late. I'll probably write something about fantasy drafting in a week or two.



GoodLiberal said...

I think you may have to re-think- I seem to agree with all of your points!! I would hang onto Clement: if it weren't for that line drive to the head, who knows how he would have finished up! His record upto the All-Star game, as you point out, speaks for itself.
I am also excited about our young pitchers: Jon Lester is another one who looks good.
Coco is a very decent replacement for Damon, Lowell and Loretta have huge upsides, and I don't see how Gonzales can make as many errors as Edgar. Onwards and upwards!!

Thunderstick said...

1. Wells will be traded as soon as they can get anything for him. He can't even throw off the mound right now. He's as big as Jabba the Hutt. He's done--7th round draft pick and a ham and I think the Sox pull the trigger.

2. Manny stays--the dude ain't right in the head. Russian MIGs could be bombing Fenway and everyone would be storming the exits and Manny would stroll up to home plate, bat in hand and think "you know...I think it's a little louder here today than most days...where's the pitcher??" The dude is clueless and he'll still hit .290, 45, 140. I say that's more than enough to deal with those 8-10 days a year when he just doesn't feel like playing and pulls himself and demands a trade.

3. Clement--as my dad used to say, you ask a girl out once and she says she's busy, OK, she might be. You ask her again and she says she's busy, OK, it could be a coincidence. You ask her a third time and that's a pattern. Same thing with Clement--every year he looks great for a half year and then falls off the table. I predict the Sox keep him, he goes like 10-2 in his first 15 starts, makes the all-star game and then the Sox trade him for help down the stretch to some team where he goes 3-9 with a 5.60 ERA. It happens every year. I don't know how many times people need to be hit on the head before they accept that.

4. Foulke--agree with Derek--better than last year (that's about as tough as being smarter than a styrofoam cup), worse than 2004 when he was great--especially in the playoffs. I don't think he'll be reliable ever again. Closers that don't through heat eventually fall off quickly. He'll keep the seat warm, by June, Hanson will be the setup man and by August, Hanson will be the closer.

5. Schilling--you know one thing about Schill--he's going to do everything he can to come back. Bottom line is that I think we'll know after 6 starts how he's going to be for the year. He'll either be fully back or he'll be in year 2 of that 3-4 year period that every player has as the last lines for their stats on the back of their baseball card.

I personally like the way the Sox are going, building around pitching and defense. I just think that at this point, they don't have quite enough pitching to beat the Yanks over 162. Hitting will get you a lot of wins in the regular season and you need exceptional pitching over 162 games to beat a team with that lineup--especially with Johnny Damon at the top of it now. But if the Sox can get to the playoffs and Schill and Beckett are rolling, some young guys come through and they solidify the closer role, with their offense, they can beat anyone in the playoffs.

And Nascar sucks. Absolutely sucks.

Can't wait for dcat's write up of Olympic figure skating. I know he's psyched for the women's long program tomorrow.

dcat said...

1. Wells is always fat. Wells always tosses 200 innings. Wells rarely misses starts. Wells does not get to dicate terms. I do like a fine ham, though . . .

2. there are still whispers that the Sox will trade Manny to the Angels but I simply do not see it happening. If we are making a major trade, it will likely come at the deadline, which leads us directly to . . .

3. Clement is what he is, to be sure, but I cannot imagine him having as much value now as he might in July if he does have a serviceable first half. We do not absolutely need anything right now. I would not make a single trade just because we feel like we need to. there is no such thing as too much pitching depth.

4. Despite the fiasco of the closer by committee in 2003, the fact remains that it is very easy to overrate closers. The key is that they not suck. If you have a guy who is decent, he can get you through the regular season. I'd love to see Foulke get back to where he was, but if he can just be decent, maybe hanson will be throwing bee bees by September.

5. I'm reasonably confident in Schill. But thunderstick is right -- we'll likely know all that we need to know by May 15.

I will be at all three opening week games in Texas. Suffice it to say I'll file reports as I can based on what i see.

And Simon -- I agree, Lester is quite good as well. he should have a solid future with us.

I am not certain why we would worry about the Yanks. They will be there, we know that, but when it comes to a dogfight, we know we can beat them. It will be a great season, and yet another one to drive Wilbon nuts, as it'll be all about the Sox and Yanks!


GoodLiberal said...

I think this thread says that you should mix in more Red Sox with the politics!!
btw, dcat, as a fan of your book and a fellow Brit like Roger, if you are ever Providence way, those Pawtucket Red Sox are only a short drive away if you want to see those next Boston stars!!

Thunderstick said...

"btw, dcat, as a fan of your book and a fellow Brit like Roger,..."

Someone actually read that piece of junk.

Little do you guys know but Derek's experiences in that book are no more true than that dude that Oprah got mad at. He actually called me up during a game that he was watching on TV to ask me "Which one is Manny and which one is Ortiz?" He just recreated every entry in that book after the season was done and the Sox won from box scores and articles he could find in the Boston Globe archives. He actually doesn't even like baseball but he's taking the day off today to go to a bar with a satellite dish to get some international live feed of the Olympics so he can watch women's figure skating as it happens.

dcat said...

Wait a second, knows nothing about baseball, loves figure skating -- that's not me you are describing, that's a Yankees fan.

Simon -- I'll tell ya, a book signing in the greater Providence-Pawtucket area would suit me just fine. We'll have to meet sometime.

In the meantime, I try to blog that delicate balance of a whole host of topics, but as the season approaches, there will be more baseball. The Sox book first gained traction when I posted one of my diary entries on my old blog, an reader saw it, asked me to post them daily on tthat blog, and from that point on, I actually had to think of writing for an audience.

Cheers --

Thunderstick said...

...and 47 publishing houses later, someone finally took pity on him and printed the thing!!!


dcat said...

At least 47. I spend my nights making Stephen King voodoo dolls.

G Man said...

Actually I was comparing one NASCAR race to 3 out of 4 *world series* games, but thanks for rambling on about it.